CAT 2014: A few noteworthy points
CAT is one exam which has transformed its structure every year. Moving from large number of questions to lesser, paper based to computer based or having reduced the number of sections CAT has come with a surprise every year. The idea behind these surprises is to ensure equitable opportunity to all the test takers. CAT 2014 notification also indicates a lot of new things that the B-School aspirants will have to encounter this time. CAT is coming closer and the notification has tended to shake the linear preparation of the candidates. There is a mix of surprise and fear as to what would be the exact shape of the test this year.
A few major changes are:
- Increase in the duration of the test
- Increase in the number of questions in each section
- Ability to switch across sections during the test
- An indication that the test might have negative marking for unanswered questions.
- Only two dates for taking CAT
The number of questions has increased as compared to the previous years but the time allotted has not been increased in the same proportion. This signals the leveling down of questions in terms of their level of difficulty. Also, we may have more questions lined to Reading Comprehension passages, Data Interpretation problems and Logical reasoning problems. Quantitative aptitude questions might get more inclined towards calculation centric problems. The increase in the number of questions and decrease in time per question is an indicator of CAT being turned to speed test from concept based test it used to be for almost last 8 years.
The opportunity to switch across the sections actually creates an emotional barrier. The candidates who are obsessed with one of the sections may tend to spend more time in that section thereby reducing the chances of clearing sectional cut-offs. I would strongly recommend that the candidates must spend equal time in each of the sections. With the increase in number of IIMs and decrease in the number of candidates the chances of getting an IIM call are good by clearing the sectional cut offs. Don’t be afraid of any sections and at the same time do not get obsessed with any section. Keep the chances of clearing sectional cut off in addition to overall cut offs safe with you. The candidates who are not very comfortable with Verbal Ability can manage to clear the minimum sectional cut off by attempting the Logical Reasoning problems and the candidates who have a fear of Quantitative Ability can take rescue from Data Interpretation problem. The requirement is to keep calm and patient and spend equal amount of time with each of the sections.
The notification says, “If you do not understand a question on the test, you should answer the question to the best of your ability. Details on negative marking and penalty for unanswered questions will be shared closer to the test day”. This information is a clear indication of penalty being imposed on the questions that are left unanswered. There are two things that need to be kept in mind:
1. The penalty for incorrect attempts would certainly be higher than for unanswered ones. So, we must make a prudent choice as to what decision has to be made. We should not enter into a larger loss for saving a smaller loss. So, imposing a penalty on questions not attempted doesn’t actually make a test difficult. It only poses a psychological burden of making a choice between two penalties. It is always wise to go for a penalty for unanswered question rather than a penalty for wrong one as the former will be a smaller loss as compared to the later.
2. The system of penalty is for everyone who appears in the test and is new for everyone. So, all the candidates stand with the same threat and opportunity. Hence, competition wise all candidates are any ways equal.
In the last almost 2-weeks try to take as many mock tests as you can take. Do not go for individual topics now. Just keep on writing full length tests and analyze the scores you achieve. Keep fine tuning your skills by overcoming the mistakes you commit during these tests.
Do not go by any opinions or peer pressure. Just keep on fine tuning. Keep boosting your own confidence by building your own strengths. Just believe that you are the best and you will give your best shot to the test.